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Hi-Fi Archives: Yma Sumac
Yma Sumac/Miracles
Yma Sumac, 1972

    Almost twenty years after teaming up with Les Baxter to produce the legendary Voice of the Xtabay, Yma Sumac and Baxter joined forces again to record Miracles. It was an ambitious project to say the least. Here's a bit of what the liner notes say: "Acclaimed for her powerful and unique artistry, Miss Sumac achieved world fame during the Fifties with the use of Mr. Baxter's productions. He has chosen to record Yma in a contemporary setting with a four-piece rock band and modern recording techniques. The results are a stunning showcase for an unparalleled performer."
     During her heyday Sumac, a purported Incan princess and the undisputed the Queen of Exotica, help broaden the exotica genre by adding South American influences. Her five octave range mixed with her mysterious past enchanted millions. Voice of the Xtabay was one of those magical albums that could transform any suburban living room into a Amazon jungle paradise, but the magic of that album could not last long in the world of rock and roll. 
     By the early 70's, most lounge performers were either doing their old acts in Vegas or trying to connect with the youth of the day. Most of the time, the latter always came off as forced and uninspired. (See: Ultra-Lounge's On The Rocks collection.) Miracles does have its moments...although they are few and far between. Sumac resorts to basically singing "oh wah" throughout the whole album and it is obvious that her voice had lost some of the dramatic range it had twenty years earlier. But there is one thing that will make any Sumac fan's ears to perk up. At the end of most of the tracks, Baxter overdubs Sumac's voice to create a multi-octive layered effect. This makes one wonder how much better Voice of the Xtabay would have sounded like if this production effect was used.
     Miracles was not in print long and quickly forgotten when compared to Sumac's earlier, stronger works. It's was a curious experiment that has all but been lost to time. 
          (For those interested in getting a hold of Miracles, it has been re-issued on CD titled Yma Rocks! but, sadly, it is rather hard to find.)

     See also:
     The Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection
     "Yma Sumac--Voice of the Incas"

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     Recently, I received this follow-up from Don Pierson at Sunvirgin.com, the Official Authorized Yma Sumac Homepage, regarding the liner notes to Miracles:

I saw your site referenced above about Yma Sumac's Miracles and have some comments.  People more and more have been posting your information (presumably without permission) on eBay when trying to sell a copy of the album and the errors are propagating rapidly. Maybe you got it from the AllMusic Guide which contains the same errors, or maybe you got it from the album's liner notes themselves but nevertheless, your site contains serious errors about the record. It was NOT produced by Les Baxter nor did he ever produce an album of Yma Sumac's.  On Miracles, he was the band leader only but he sweet-talked London Records into changing the approved credits to make himself seem responsible for her career and ended up getting himself and London Records sued, and the record pulled almost as soon as it hit the shelves which is what makes it hard to find today. Actually, it was produced and fully funded by Robert Covais and gang at KBC International, not produced FOR them as the liner notes claimed. I would really appreciate it if you could help set the record straight by correcting your page.

Also, you say that Yma Rocks! (the CD of Miracles with two previously-unreleased tracks) is hard to find.  In fact, it is very easy to find: at http://www.sunvirgin.com/ where it sold exclusively. Even though it is sold only in this one place, it is readily available there.

Thanks for your time.



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